The Growing Gender MD Pay Gap CAN Be Explained
"Prior research has suggested that gender differences in physicians’ salaries can be accounted for by the tendency of women to enter primary care fields and work fewer hours. However, in examining starting salaries by gender of physicians leaving residency programs in New York State during 1999–2008, we found a significant gender gap that cannot be explained by specialty choice, practice setting, work hours, or other characteristics. The unexplained trend toward diverging salaries appears to be a recent development that is growing over time. In 2008, male physicians newly trained in New York State made on average $16,819 more than newly trained female physicians, compared to a $3,600 difference in 1999."What's causing the growing pay gap? The authors don't think it's driven by increasing gender discrimination and conclude that:
"It would be difficult to believe that discrimination, after a period of quiescence, has actually been on the rise in recent years. Moreover, our results indicate a trend toward diverging salaries not only in the traditionally male-dominated sub-specialty fields, which experienced an influx of women in our sample, but also in primary care fields."
"It is possible that the continued influx of women into medicine has reached a tipping point, and physician practices may now be offering greater flexibility and family-friendly attributes that are more appealing to female practitioners but that come at the price of commensurately lower pay.
Such an explanation not only is consistent with the pattern observed in the data, but it also suggests that the continued integration of women into the physician workforce is reshaping the practice and business of medicine in ways that need to be measured by variables that are more subtle and comprehensive than salary.
If true, it also implies that female physicians respond to non-monetary elements in a given job offer and are willing to accept lower salaries in return for jobs that better reflect their broader employment preferences.
Thus, instead of being penalized because of their gender, female physicians may be seeking out employment arrangements that compensate them in other—non-financial—ways, and more employers may be beginning to offer such arrangements."